The White House is pressing to include $600 stimulus checks in the next pandemic aid package, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
It reflects the increasing calls on Capitol Hill to include the relief payments in a $908 billion pandemic aid package that omitted them.
Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Josh Hawley are pressing for stimulus checks in Congress.
The White House is reportedly pressing top Senate Republicans to include a $600 stimulus check for Americans in the next virus relief package, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing two sources familiar with private discussions.
The amount is half of the $1,200 direct payments sent to millions of Americans earlier this year through the CARES Act that Congress. It was not clear whether Democrats would get onboard with the idea.
White House spokesperson Ben Williamson said in a statement to Business Insider: “While the amount is yet to be determined, direct payments to American workers continue to be a high priority of the President’s.”
Trump had supported a large economic relief package that included the payments in the runup to the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The development reflects the growing calls on Capitol Hill among Democrats and some Republicans to include a fresh round of stimulus checks in the next rescue package. The framework of the $908 billion economic aid plan – which still lacks legislative language – omitted them.
A bipartisan group of senators are crafting the bill, which they are trying to keep under $1 trillion to garner more support from Republicans. But many Democrats are stepping up their calls for the package to be bigger.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is spearheading a group of Democratic senators in pushing to include relief checks.
“The American people need help and they need help now,” Sanders and some fellow Democrats said in a letter obtained by Business Insider. “We agree with President-elect Biden that a $1,200 direct payment should be included in this proposal.”
Sanders indicated last week he would reject the proposal unless it includes the checks and scraps the liability shield for businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits. At a press conference, Senate minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats backed the direct payments, but said it should be added onto the latest package and not traded off for another measure.
Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has emerged as a prominent Republican urging another wave of relief payments. “I’m continuing to be flummoxed as to why there aren’t any direct payments. Everybody supported this in March,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday. “It’s the most useful, helpful, and frankly popular aspect.”
He called the development of the White House supporting $600 checks “progress” in a tweet on Tuesday, but maintained his support for the $1,200 direct payments.
In March, Congress and President Donald Trump authorized $1,200 checks for millions of American taxpayers earning up to $75,000 annually, plus an extra $500 per child under 17. The cash amount diminished until being phased out for those making above $99,000. Married couples earning up to $150,000 a year also qualified for the full payment.
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